Friday, November 30, 2012

27 Mark Twain Quotes To Celebrate His Birthday


Happy birthday to Mark Twain.

To celebrate the birthday of America's great humorist and novelist the Huffington Post offers 27 of Twain's quotes.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the man behind the pseudonym that brought us such classic works of American literature as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, would be celebrating his 177th birthday if he were alive today.

Mark Twain's quotes are among the most shared and beloved, perhaps due to his wisdom acquired while working a number of jobs: He was a typesetter, steamboat pilot, miner, travel writer, and investor in technological inventions.

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy,” wrote Mark Twain.
 
You can read the rest of the piece and the other 26 quotes via the below link:
 

The Cop And the Homeless Man's Shoes: NYPD Officer's Inspiring Kindness Is NYC At Its Finest

 
In what could be a modern O'Henry story, a New York City police officer purchased a pair of shoes and socks for a shoeless homeless man he saw on his beat.

Andrea Peyser at the New York Post wrote about the story.

Police Officer Larry DePrimo makes me proud to be a New Yorker. And a human being.

At 25, his small, bashful voice still cracks. But after 2 1/2 years on the job, he was pounding a beat amid the winos and thugs and pioneering yuppies on West 44th Street. And Officer DePrimo committed a small act of random kindness that proved so powerful, so grand and beautiful, it turned this shy near-rookie into a rock star.

He just doesn’t know it.

On a freezing November night, DePrimo spotted an elderly man with no socks and no shoes on his feet. People who even noticed the man laughed in his direction.

And the officer did something that so many of us who don’t even see the homeless as human would not dare. He saw the man not as someone to avoid, to run away from.

He asked the man’s shoe size — 12. And he walked into Skechers in Times Square, dipped into his own pocket for $50, and bought the homeless stranger a present he’d never before possessed. A new pair of boots. It was as natural as breathing.

“I could see the blisters from the distance,” the cop said shyly. “It was just so cold. I just had to do something.”

You can read the rest of Andrea Peyser's column via the below link:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/officer_inspiring_kindnessis_nyc_YtoVnBMdhzFbpKc0iAbFPI

And you can read another New York post account of the story via the below link:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/times_sq_cop_heart_and_sole_26ZIKgJnNDtxuhX0fCclcO

A 1927 Film Clip With Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Discussing Sherlock Holmes and Psychics


The web site openculture.com offers a 1927 film clip that features Sherlock Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

While Scottish physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930, he seems almost wholly of the nineteenth century: a trained scientist who fervently believed in “spiritualism” and fairies, and an accomplished and prolific writer whose most famous character—that most logical of detectives—had a cocaine addiction and more personal quirks than the average neurotic. Like Joseph Conrad, Doyle sailed–as a ship’s doctor–to European colonies in West Africa and found himself deeply affected by the brutal exploitation he encountered. And like Conrad, he seems to embody a turn-of-the-century Britishness poised between old and new worlds, when Victoria gave way to Edward and modernity limned the Empire. Although the age of film and of television have always embraced Sherlock Holmes, his creator belongs to the age of the novel. Nevertheless, he agreed to the 1927 interview above, possibly his only appearance on film. In the brief monologue, he discusses the two questions that he most received from curious fans and journalists: how he came to write the Sherlock Holmes stories and how he came to believe in “psychic matters.”

You can read the rest of the piece and watch the film interview via the below link:

http://www.openculture.com/2012/11/arthur_conan_doyle_discusses_sherlock_holmes_and_psychics_in_a_rare_filmed_interview_1927.html

Philly Mob Boss Rips Government Case As 'Bullshit'


Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the federal organized crime trial in Philadelphia for www.bigtrial.net.

Mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi is apparently less than impressed with the government's evidence against him.

"This case is all bullshit," Ligambi said Thursday to several friends and family members who were seated in the second row of the courtroom.

Ligambi's comment came during a break and with the jury out of the courtroom. But his assessment, while not in legal terms, has been repeated privately by defense attorneys as the government continues to offer evidence and witnesses but, in the defense estimation, no smoking gun.


You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

http://www.bigtrial.net/2012/11/mob-boss-rips-goverment-case.html

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Montage of Sean Connery As Ian Fleming's Iconic Character James Bond

 
While Daniel Craig is receiving rave reviews as James Bond in the film Skyfall, and deservedly so, I thought I should remind people of the first, and in my view the best, actor to portray James Bond in the film series - Sean Connery.

Below is link to a montage of Sean Connery as James Bond that Ian Connor MacLeod placed on youtube.com:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84dX-gLHjKI

Defense Secretary Panetta Honors Veterans At Vietnam War 'Wall' Education Center


Terri Moon Cronk at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2012 - The education center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial "Wall" will be a place to join the past to the future, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at the center's groundbreaking ceremony today.

By telling the stories of service members whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country will not be forgotten, he said.
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined Panetta at the ceremony, held near the memorial on the National Mall here. The groundbreaking included a large delegation of congressional and military leaders and members of Gold Star Families -- an organization for families that have lost loved ones in military service.

"It will be a site for future generations of Americans to learn, think and reflect on our nation's wars and those who fought them," Panetta said of the education center. "This is a very poignant moment, for a very special place in my heart for [Vietnam veterans]."

The center, which will honor veterans from several U.S. wars, will bring to life the stories of the more than 58,000 U.S. service members who were lost during the Vietnam War. Stories and photos of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan also will be featured until those veterans have their own national place of honor, event officials said.

"As I travel across the country and the world, I am always inspired by the strength and the resilience of our military families," Biden, also a military mom, told the audience.

"But there are many Americans who don't know anyone in the military," she added. "As a life-long educator, that's why the education center is so important. It will help ensure our veterans will always be remembered -- not just in name, by but by their actions. Those actions will become part of the lessons that educate and inspire us for years to come."

This year begins the 50th anniversary commemoration of the United States' participation in the Vietnam War, Panetta told the audience.

"We remember their bravery and heroism and we will never forget their sacrifices during that conflict," he said of U.S. service members who fought in Vietnam.

Panetta spoke of his recent travels to Vietnam, noting that Defense Department officials were working diligently in Hanoi to find and identify remains of U.S. service members who are missing in action there and throughout the region.

"It is our sacred duty to leave no one behind," Panetta said. "We will not rest until every MIA is brought home. I assure you that your government is committed to the fullest possible accounting of our missing service members from the Vietnam War."

Panetta said Americans failed to acknowledge the sacrifices of the nation's service members when they returned home after the war.

"America's recognition came too late," he said. "The Vietnam generation is graying now. Preserving stories requires more than a place of remembrance. It needs a place of education. [These veterans] must never be forgotten."

The center will focus on a divisive time in the nation's history from which it learned meaningful lessons, the secretary said.

"That war is always a last resort, that we must have a clear mission [to fight], that people can oppose a war and still support the troops, and that we should always cherish the legacy of valor and self-sacrifice our veterans represent and make America strong," he said.

Panetta said the center will honor the nation's military heroes "by telling the stories of brave American warriors, past and present, we help ensure we'll never forget the sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price for their country."

"The torch of freedom these heroes carried into battle must be passed from generation to generation, so we never stop fighting for a better future for our children," the secretary said.

Philadelphia Mob Trial: Video Poker Machines For Amusement Only?


George Anastasia, who covered organized crime for the Philadelphia Inquirer for many years, is now covering the federal organized crime trial in Philadelphia for www.bigtrial.net.

The sign taped across the front of the Dodge City video poker machine read "for amusement only."

It was, federal prosecutors said, false advertising.

Video poker machines have long been a major money-maker for the mob, according to law enforcement authorities, and Wednesday the jury in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants got a detailed lesson about the ins and outs of the business.

The testimony from James Dunlap, a retired Baltimore police detective and nationally recognized gambling expert, set the stage for the next phase of the six-week old trial. On Thursday Curt Arbitman, described by investigators as a major distributor ofillegal poker machines in South Philadelphia, is expected to take the stand for the prosecution and discuss his business dealings with Ligambi and co-defendants Anthony Staino and Joseph "Mousie" Massimino among others.


Arbitman's warehouse/garage on Mountain Street in South Philadelphia was the target of a raid in September 2009. Dozens of machines were seized that day at the garage and at several bars in South Philadelphia. The raids were parrt of an ongoing investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General's Office.

Evidence gathered in that probe wasturned over to federal authorities and was incorporated in the racketeering conspiracy indictment handed up against Ligambi, 73, and the others in May 2011.


You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

http://www.bigtrial.net/2012/11/for-amusement-only.html

You can also read George Anastasia's other pieces on the organized crime trial via the below link:

http://www.bigtrial.net/

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buyer Beware: FBI Reports That Cyber Scammers Are Targeting Holiday Shoppers


The FBI's San Diego Office released the below crime prevention information:

Holiday Shopping Tips

In advance of the holiday season, the FBI reminds shoppers to beware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing e-mails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or e-mails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product.

Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales

Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else’s stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.

Shoppers should be cautious and not provide credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or other financial information directly to the seller. Fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100 percent positive feedback, if they have a low total number of feedback postings, and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam

The safest way to purchase gift cards is directly from the merchant or authorized retail merchant. If the merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number, and it will not be honored to make purchases.

Phishing and Social Networking

Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individual to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate; however, any personal information you provide, such as account number and personal identification number (PIN), will be stolen.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed website. A spoofed website is a fake site or copy of a real website that is designed to mislead the recipient into providing personal information.

Consumers are encouraged to beware of bargain e-mails advertising “one day only” promotions for recognized brands or website. Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage “if it seems too good to be true” is a good barometer to use to legitimize e-mails.

Black Friday has traditionally been the “biggest shopping day of the year.” The Monday following Thanksgiving has more recently (2005) been labeled Cyber Monday, meaning the e-commerce industry endorses this special day to offer sales and promotions without interfering with the traditional way to shop. Scammers try to prey on Black Friday or Cyber Monday bargain hunters by advertising one day only promotions from recognized brands. Consumers should be on the watch for too good to be true e-mails from unrecognized website.

Along with online shopping comes the growth of consumers utilizing social networking sites and mobile phones to satisfy their shopping needs more easily. Again, consumers are encouraged to beware of e-mails, text messages, or postings that may lead to fraudulent sites offering bargains on brand name products.

Tips

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted Internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI website (www.fbi.gov) and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI’s New E-Scams and Warnings webpage at http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm.

No One Shot, Stabbed Or Slashed In New York City On Monday, Police Sources Say


Rocco Parascandola at the New York Daily News reports on a rare day in the city.

No news really is good news -- not a single person was reported shot, stabbed or slashed in New York City on Monday, police sources said.

The shutout seemingly caught the NYPD by suprise, as officials were almost at a loss to explain it.
"Nice way to start the week," said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman.
Neither Browne nor other officials could remember the last time a day ended with three zeros.

You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/reported-shot-stabbed-slashed-nyc-monday-article-1.1209204

Lunch With James Bond Creator Ian Fleming And A Look Back At His Time As A Journalist For Reuters


With the success of the new James Bond film Skyfall a good number of magazines and newspapers have offered articles on James Bond's creator, the late great thriller writer Ian Fleming.

Joshua Rothamn at The New Yorker offers a piece on the lunch New Yorker writer Geoffrey Hellman had with Ian Fleming in 1962.

It’s a little hard to believe, but the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” was released more than a half-century ago, on October 5, 1962. At that time, Ian Fleming, the writer of the James Bond novels, was fifty-three. In April of that year (when Daniel Craig, it’s worth pointing out, was negative five), The New Yorker’s Geoffrey Hellman met Fleming for lunch at the Pierre (now the Taj). Fleming was in New York to visit his publishers. He’d stopped en route between his vacation house, in Jamaica (where Dr. No also has a hideaway) and his home in London.

You can read Joshua Rothman's piece and link to Geoffrey Hellman's 1962 piece via the below link:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/backissues/2012/11/lunch-with-ian-fleming-bond-at-fifty.html

John Entwisle also offers an interesting piece on Ian Fleming's time as a young journalist for Reuters.

Ian Fleming was the man behind Bond. Born in 1908, he died in 1964 at the age of 56.

From 1945 to 1959, he worked as Foreign Manager for Kemsley (later Thomson) newspapers. But early in the 30s, when still a young man, he was a Reuters journalist.

Fleming never forgot his time with Reuters. He frequently recalled those years in interviews, describing the British newsagency as “a very good mill”. “The training there gives you a good, straightforward style” he said.

In February 1988, retired Reuters journalist, Basil Chapman, wrote an excellent account of Fleming’s time with the company for its then house-magazine ‘Reuters World’.

You can read the piece via the below link:

http://blog.thomsonreuters.com/index.php/ian-fleming-the-reuters-journalist-who-gave-us-all-a-run-for-our-money/

Monday, November 26, 2012

As American As Jazz: Martin Amis On Elmore Leonard And Elmore Leonard On Elmore Leonard


Amy Alkon at Mens News Daily reports on Martin Amis' introduction of Elmore Leonard at the National Book Awards.

... Martin Amis did a wonderful intro of him at The National Book Awards we just attended, referring to a bit of his rule-breaking and how he writes in the present participle: "We are in a kind of marijuana tense."

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video of Martin Amis' introduction and Elmore Leonard's acceptance speech via the below link:

http://amyalkon.mensnewsdaily.com/2012/11/26/martin-amis-on-elmore-leonard-and-elmore-leonard-on-elmore-leonard-2/

Inside An FBI Anti-Terrorist Sting Operation


Del Quentin Wilber at the Washington Post reports on an FBI operation against a would-be-terrorist.

The bomb explosion had been spectacular, sending shock waves for miles. But Amine El Khalifi, who dreamed of a martyr’s death with explosives strapped to his chest, seemed unimpressed.

“This is not enough,” Khalifi told two men who he thought were al-Qaeda operatives after they demonstrated the bomb’s power for him at a West Virginia quarry on a frigid January afternoon.

The men were undercover FBI agents who had spent months getting close to the Moroccan immigrant. That morning, on the way to the quarry, Khalifi had told one of them that he no longer wanted to leave a bomb in a restaurant; he now desired to die for his cause in a suicide attack that would bring down a symbol of American democracy: theU.S. Capitol Dome.

You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/inside-an-fbi-anti-terrorist-sting-operation/2012/11/25/0838eee0-2f55-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Crime Beat Column: Peace, Love And Homicide - The Unicorn Killer Is Convicted


I’ll never let you leave me. If I can’t have you, no one will.

The jilted lover turned murderer is a classic character in crime fiction and in the true annals of crime.

 "To kill what you love when you can’t have it seems so natural that strangling Rita last night seemed so right," Ira Einhorn wrote in his journal in 1962 when their love affair ended. Fortunately, she survived the attack, but a later girlfriend would not be so lucky.

Einhorn, often called Philadelphia’s "Hippie Guru," in the 1960s and 70s, was recently convicted in Philadelphia of the murder of his former girlfriend, Holly Maddux.

The long road to his conviction and life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison began in 1977 when Maddux, a young woman who left Texas to attend Bryn Mawr College, was reported missing after she broke it off with Einhorn. When the police could not find her, the Maddux family hired a private detective to search for her.

When neighbors complained about a horrible smell coming from Einhorn’s apartment in 1979, the police searched and found Maddux’s body in a locked steamer trunk in his closet. Arrested and charged with her murder, Einhorn’s attorney, former Philadelphia District Attorney and current U.S. Senator, Arlen Specter, arranged for several prominent business, social and civic leaders to testify to Einhorn’s good character. Despite the obvious fact that Einhorn kept his mummified girlfriend in a closet for 18 months, bail was set at $40,000. He skipped his pretrial hearing and fled the country.

Einhorn, a local media darling, often appeared on TV and in the newspapers during the 1960s as a counterculture hippie spokesman and in the 1970s as a "New Age activist." He was a friend of 60’s radicals Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, as well as the pet radical of some of Philadelphia’s bluest bloods and wealthiest corporate leaders (to get a better understanding of this type of odd social pairing, read Tom Wolfe’s great piece, Radical Chic).

As the name Einhorn translates to "one horn," he began to call himself "the Unicorn." He lived off of the kindness and money of gullible supporters. He was largely a media creation, it seemed to me. He was, both then and now, a sociopath and con artist.

Having been a teenager during the 1960s, I recall the decade’s counterculture vividly. The true believers, called hippies by the media, were a small, though highly visible minority group. They rejected conventional morality and personal hygiene (Einhorn was known to not bathe and smelled horribly) and claimed to believe in peace, love and understanding. Also active during that time and confused with the hippies were the radicals who participated in violent protests against the Vietnam War and other issues.

On college campuses and in urban centers like Philadelphia, most of the young people were enamored with the music, clothes, movies, drugs and other stylistic trappings of the age, but the great majority never truly subscribed to the extreme radical politics of the day or the dreamy hippie philosophy. Reporters looking for good copy and sound bites flocked like groupies to charlatans like Einhorn.

Throughout the 1980s Einhorn was a fugitive from justice. He was spotted in Ireland and Sweden, but no arrests were made. In 1993 the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office tried Einhorn in absentia. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1997, the TV show Unsolved Mysteries told the story of Maddux’s murder and Einhorn’s fugitive flight. The tips rolled in after the show was broadcast and Einhorn was reported to be living in France under the name of Eugene Mallon. The French police arrested him, but then the French court refused to extradite him back to the U.S.

The French are much taken with our murderers – and Jerry Lewis. I suppose it’s a French thing.

Finally, after much public debate and political maneuvering, as well as Einhorn’s pathetic and phony attempt to slash his own throat, the French turned Einhorn over to the American authorities in France in 2001.

He was flown back to Philadelphia and granted a new trial. The trial, which received both national and international news coverage, was a strange one.

Einhorn’s defense was that he was framed. Although that is not a particularly original defense - "The DA framed me not knowing that I was really guilty. Ain’t that a coincidence?" a small time hood said to Dashiell Hammet’s fictional detective Nick Charles in The Thin Man – Einhorn said the CIA framed him because of his extensive knowledge of secret, mind-control weapons. Some called this the "X-Files" defense.

Einhorn took the stand and told the court that his research into psychotronic mind-control weaponry, and the use of telepathic power and radio waves to control people was the reason Maddux was murdered and her body placed in his apartment. His egomania clearly came through in the court and the jury only took two hours to return a verdict of guilty.

Before sentencing Einhorn to life in prison, Judge William Mazzola called him an "intellectual dilettante who prayed on uninitiated, uninformed, unsuspecting, inexperienced people."

The judge quoted one witness who said Einhorn was a gadfly who ingratiated himself into organizations, as when he received a fellowship at Harvard and then passed himself off as a professor.

"He’s the type of person who I would describe as someone who would buy a book and read the first and last chapters of the book and feign a special understanding. I think the criticism we heard during testimony of other witnesses was not unfounded and the sentence is justified," Judge Mazzola said from the bench.

Now, after all these years, the Maddux family finally has justice. Einhorn has gone from sipping fine wine on his French farm to being prisoner ES6859. They don’t serve wine, fine or otherwise, at the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale.

Note: The column orignally appeared in the Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2002.

My Crime Beat Column: Arthur H. Lewis, A Look Back At A True Crime Writer


Last month I caught a news item from The York Daily Record in York, Pennsylvania about a promotion company’s plans to turn the site of a sensational 1928 murder into a tourist attraction.

The story mentioned Hex, the 1969 true crime book that covered the trial of a murdered "powwow" doctor – a Pennsylvania Dutch witch – Nelson Remeyer. Remeyer purportedly placed a hex on another powwow doctor, John Blymire. Blymire and two confederates broke into Remeyer’s house looking for a lock of his hair and his book of hexes. They encountered Remeyer and murdered him.

I was privileged to have met the unusual man who wrote Hex and many other unusual crime stories.

Back in the mid-1980s, I attended a series of seminars by Arthur H. Lewis, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and author of several non-fiction best-sellers. Lewis, who died in 1995 at the age of 89, conducted the seminars at the Philadelphia Free Library in South Philadelphia.

I heard of the offered seminars and having wanted to be a crime writer since I was 12, I quickly signed up. I hoped to learn about journalism and publishing from a true professional.

Lewis, a short man with short-cropped white hair, came across as a lively, unpretentious man who truly loved being a writer. He called himself a reporter rather than a best-selling author. He told our small group of writers and aspiring writers that being a writer can be interesting and fun, but it took hard work and discipline to sit down and write books.

At the time, I was a Defense Department civilian employee and I was writing news and features for in-house Defense Department magazines. I hoped to graduate to working for newspapers and magazines and eventually write short stories and novels.

During the course of the seminars, Lewis was complimentary about my writing and at first I thought he was merely being polite. But then, after a reading, he told a woman in the group that she was not and probably would never be a writer.

"You just don’t have it," he told her in cold, blunt terms. He went on to criticize her submitted work and pointed out in detail why she didn’t have the skills, abilities or talent to be a writer.

After the seminar, I walked Lewis to his Center City home, a half-dozen blocks away from the library, as I had after the two previous seminars. As we walked, I told him I thought he was too harsh with the woman. He replied that she was wasting her time trying to be a writer. She ought to pursue something else.

I enjoyed the walks and private conversations with Lewis. Looking back, I think I learned far more about journalism and publishing from these talks than I did from attending journalism courses at Penn State and Temple University.

Although he is not well-known today, in his time Lewis wrote several best-selling books about true crime and other subjects.

He wrote 15 nonfiction books and two novels. He was nominated for an "Edgar" award by the Mystery Writers of America in 1965 for Lament for the Molly Maguires.

The book covered the true story about the secret society of Pennsylvania Irish coal miners who took the name of a legendary heroine who led insurrections against the British during the Irish famine. The Molly Maguires fought against the truly awful living and working conditions in the mines, yet many would say that the Molly Maguires were terrorists due to their violent actions.

Led by Jack Kehoe, a tough ex-miner turned saloonkeeper, the Molly Maguires initially committed violence only against brutal mine bosses and dynamited the mines and company trains. Later, like any organized crime or terrorist group, they cut off the ears and tongues of suspected informants and took to beating and killing anyone who offended a member of the powerful secret organization.

In response to the violence, the mining companies hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The Pinkertons sent in an Irish undercover detective named James McParland. McParland posed as a murderer hiding out and he quickly infiltrated the secret society. For three years, McParland worked his way up to the leadership of the group.

The detective, an early day-Donnie Brasco, gathered evidence that helped convict and hang the Molly Maguire leaders, including Jack Kehoe, in 1877.

Lewis’ book was later made into a 1970 film starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris.

The film, directed by Martin Ritt and written for the screen by Walter Bernstein, was notably more sympathetic to the Molly Maguires than Lewis’ book. (Ritt and Bernstein, it should be noted, were political leftists and communist sympathizers in the 1950s).

Arthur Lewis was born in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania on September 1906. He dropped out of college to become a reporter with The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1927. He said he loved being a reporter, which he likened to going to a new show every day. He later worked in radio and did public relations work for several Pennsylvania governors.

He published his first book in 1956 when he was 49. The book was The Aaronsburg Story, the true story of the founding of a Central Pennsylvania town in 1786 by Aaron Levy. Four years later he published The Worlds of Chippy Patterson, a fascinating book about a Philadelphia criminal lawyer who took on the vilest cases and defended gangsters, madams and sexual deviants. Patterson was also a lover of classic literature. Years after reading Lewis’ book, I would watch the British TV series and read John Mortimer’s short stories about his fictional character, British lawyer Horace Rumpole, and think of Patterson.

Patterson was the scion of a wealthy and socially prominent family, yet he identified with criminals and social outcasts. The book covers a wonderful period of time in the Philadelphia court system and all levels of Philadelphia and American society.

Another favorite Lewis true crime book of mine is Murder by Contract: The People v. "Tough Tony" Boyle. Lewis’s book covers the 1969 murder of Jock Yablonski and his wife and daughter and the subsequent trial of Boyle, who was the head of the United Mine Workers.

In 1969 Joseph "Jock" Yablonski challenged Boyle for the union leadership. He lost in what most observers believed was a fraudulent election and Yablonski asked the Department of Labor to investigate the fraud. "Tough Tony" then hired three hit-men to kill and silence Yablonski. Lewis’ story is also about an interesting Philadelphia lawyer named Richard A. Sprague, who acted as the prosecuting attorney.

Lewis also wrote books about carnivals, prostitutes, eccentrics and the Philadelphia Kellys, including one Kelly named Grace who became a movie star and real life princess. The Princess and the Kelly family were not at all happy with the book, as it exposed family secrets.

Lewis loved being a writer. He used a restored 1917 L.C. Smith typewriter and well into his 80s; he continued to type 1,000 words a day.

Lewis died on January 25, 1995. He led a full and fascinating life, it seems to me, and he left behind his loving wife of many years and children and grandchildren.

Arthur H. Lewis was a very good interviewer and researcher long before the Internet and Google. And thanks to his enthusiasm for people and stories, and his down-to-earth and likeable personality, he was able to get his unusual subjects to tell all, or nearly all. And the rest is history, as they say.

Although his books are largely out of print today, thanks to the Internet and Abebooks.com, E-Bay and other Internet-based book traders, you can still purchase Lewis’ books at reasonable prices.

Arthur H. Lewis’ books are part of my library and I suspect his books are also part of the libraries of many a reader who is interested in history, in crime, and in a good story about fascinating people and times.

Note: The column originally appeared in the Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2007.

My Crime Beat Column: A Samurai Sword Story, An American Thriller About Japan, Crime, War, Obligation And Honor

 
  
I have long been interested in firearms and edged weapons. I have a small collection of guns, knives and swords that adorn my basement office’s walls and bookcase shelves, alongside my photos, maps and other mementos of my travels and my time in the U.S. Navy.

My keen interest in weapons does not imply that I have visions of attacking a high school or shopping mall. Like most hunters, target shooters and collectors, I see weapons as fine instruments, historical artifacts and tools for self-defense.

The American gun culture, it seems to me, is based on the fact that our freedoms were won and have been preserved by our proficiency of firearms and other weapons and our willingness to use them in our defense. Ask the Nazis, ask the Imperial Japanese.

I recall visiting Japan as an 18-year-old sailor while stationed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk in 1971. The aircraft carrier was temporarily relieved from combat operations off the coast of Vietnam and we sailed to Sasebo, Japan for our scheduled R&R period.

The Japanese had been my father’s bitter enemy. He served as an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogman in the Pacific during WW II. The old chief participated in some grueling and bloody battles on the Japanese-held beaches and islands, yet he held no rancor against the Japanese and he appeared to be as excited as I was about my visit to the Land of the Rising Sun.

I became particularly interested in Japan in 1965 when I read Ian Fleming’s thriller You Only Live Twice. Although as a teenager I enjoyed the 1967 film, starring Sean Connery as James Bond, I thought the movie was a bit silly. The film’s only saving grace was the tremendous screen presence of Connery and the music soundtrack by the great John Barry. I was disappointed that the film makers did not make use of the novel’s fantastic plot or tap into the cultural differences between the West and Japan, as Fleming did so well in his book.

I prepared for my visit to Japan by re-reading the novel, reading a couple of travel books that I picked up and I had my ever-ready "travel bible," which included a chapter on Japan. My travel bible was an old paperback edition of Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities.

The book was a collection of travel articles Fleming wrote for the London Sunday Times in 1959 and 1960. The articles were compiled in a book in 1963 and the cover art featured a suitcase with four travel stickers attached. One sticker portrayed a girl in a bikini, another was an Ace of Spades playing card, the third was the skull & crossbones symbol for poison, and the last was a semi-automatic pistol. Cool, I thought.

Written above the suitcase was the beckoning call to "Join the creator of James Bond on an adventure-charged visit to the world’s most EXCITING, EXOTIC and SINFUL cities."

Shortly after the carrier docked in Sasebo, I boarded a train bound for Nagasaki. Out of uniform and wearing my Hong Kong-tailored black suit with an open-collared shirt, a friend and I visited some of the cultural spots in the city and then we moved on to the local bars. Walking up a narrow street while barhopping, I spotted a small store that could have been an antique shop or a pawn shop, but I had no idea as the signs were in Japanese. But what I spied in the shop window quickly drew me in.

In the center of the window was an old and glorious set of Samurai swords. I didn’t know anything about Samurai swords at the time, other than the cursory knowledge I gleaned from the books I read, but these swords looked authentic to me. I bowed to the proprietor, an elderly man, and I pulled out a handful of Yen, pointing towards the swords in the window.

His response was in Japanese, spoken softly as he continued to bow up and down. I bowed back, having read somewhere that the more you bow, the more humble and polite you are. Of course, the proprietor was always two bows ahead, as he had a lot more practice at this than I, and I had consumed a good bit of Sake before entering into negotiation.

Thankfully, a young woman customer spoke English and she politely informed me that the swords were not for sale. She explained that the swords belonged to the proprietor’s ancestors. I bowed again, twice, and quickly bowed out of the store.

It would take another 25 years before I finally bought a set of Samurai swords for my collection.

So it was with some interest that I picked up Stephen Hunter’s The 47th Samurai. The thriller features Hunter’s character Bob Lee "Bob the Nailer" Swagger, a former U.S. Marine sniper from the Vietnam War. Hunter has written several novels about Bob Lee and his father Earl Swagger, a WW II-era Marine who won the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima. Earl Swagger became an Arkansas state trooper after the war and was killed in the line of duty when Bob Lee was a young boy.

Both Bob Lee and Earl are rugged individuals with a more than a proficient knowledge of firearms and a strong sense of justice and personal honor.

Hunter has written several novels that featured Bob Lee, such as Black Light and Point of Impact – recently made into the film Shooter. Hunter has also written novels featuring Earl Swagger in his time, including Hot Springs and Havana.

In The 47th Samurai Hunter features both father and son in alternating chapters in a story about a Japanese Officer’s sword, which Earl obtained after his heroic action in taking out a Japanese pill box single-handily on Iwo Jima.

A stoic man not interested in war souvenirs, he generously gives the sword to a young, dispirited Marine officer who was wounded in the fighting. Many years later, a retired Colonel in Japan’s Self Defense Forces, the son of the late Japanese officer, visits the 60- year-old Bob Lee in Idaho and asks him for the return of the sword.

Bob Lee Swagger tells the retired Colonel that his father rarely discussed the war and he does not have the sword. But the idea of returning the sword becomes something of a quest and Swagger hunts the sword down and then travels to Japan to return it to the Colonel.

As it turns out, the sword is discovered to be much more valuable than either Swagger or the Japanese Colonel knew. The valuable, historical sword attracts the attention of a Yakuza assassin with illusions of grandeur and a wealthy Japanese porn film mogul.

Swagger, who feels a strong bond and a strong sense of obligation to the Japanese Colonel – two former soldiers whose fathers fought bravely against one another - takes on the Yakuza. Although he was once a master sniper, he quickly learns how to use a sword in place of a rifle in his battle with Japan’s organized crime group.

Hunter hated Tom Cruise’s film The Last Samurai (so did I), and he said he wrote this novel as a rebuke to the film. The idea that an American can quickly master Japanese swordsmanship and defeat Japanese Samurai in a sword fight was plain silly. Swagger, who at 60 is still strong and athletic, learns to adequately handle a sword, but he is no match for the masters who have studied and trained for years and years. He has to use good, ole American ingenuity – he cheats.

The novel is an excellent thriller, worthy, I think, to sit beside other Western thrillers based in Japan, such as You Only Live Twice and James Clavell’s Shogun. Hunter does his research and the characters and events of the novel are exciting and extraordinary, yet they are also authentic and believable.

Stephen Hunter is an interesting writer. He’s the Washington Post’s movie critic and films play a big part in the book with Swagger watching the classic Japanese Samurai films as part of his training. Where in previous books Hunter’s interest and knowledge of firearms is apparent, in this book his research is applied to Japanese history, culture and Japanese swordsmanship.

Hunter has told interviewers that he knew he wanted to be a writer since he was 10-years-old and his interest in firearms also developed early. He recalls watching a TV episode of Dragnet in which the TV cops break out the big guns for a shoot-out. Unfortunately for the young Stephen Hunter, his father, a university professor, disapproved of firearms and would not allow them in the house. His father later became a murder victim.

Hunter served in the state-side Army for two years and he later became a reporter with The Baltimore Sun. He said he went through a period of "creepy liberalism" and sang the liberal song of banning all guns. Then he happened to see a magazine with a gun on the cover and he realized his "inner gunslinger," as Mary Carole McCauley of The Baltimore Sun so aptly put it. Hunter soon purchased his first gun.

Heavily influenced by Ernest Hemingway (he calls himself Hemingway lite), he wrote his first novel in 1980. That novel was called The Master Sniper and it featured a WW II German sniper. He later read a book about Marine Gunnery Sgt. (Ret) Carlos N. Hathcock, who was a legendary sniper during the Vietnam War, and Hunter based his Bob Lee Swagger character on Hathcock.

I like Hunter’s attitude towards so-called serious literature. "To me "Literature" means a book without a gunfight," he told McCauley.

Or a sword fight, I might add.

Note: The column originally appeared in the Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2007.

Friday, November 23, 2012

FBI Releases 2011 Statistics On Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted



The FBI released the below on November 19th:

According to the FBI, 72 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2011. Another 53 officers died in accidents while performing their duties, and 54,774 officers were assaulted in the line of duty. Comprehensive tabular data about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks are included in the 2011 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, released today.

You can read the rest of the FBI report via the below link:

http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2011-statistics-on-law-enforcement-officers-killed-and-assaulted?utm_campaign=email-Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=national-press-releases&utm_content=154840

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Cold Case That Warms A Cop's Heart: Janet Maslin's Review of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch Crime Thriller


Janet Maslin at the New York Times wrote a good review of Michael Connelly's new crime thriller.

The start of “The Black Box” finds Harry Bosch as a street cop on the riot-torn streets of South Central. He is trying to help subdue the Rodney King riots. And he is exceptionally aware of race for two additional reasons. First, Harry is the only white cop in his unit, and his colleagues warn him to be careful. Second, the woman whose corpse Harry finds in an alley was Anneke Jespersen, a Danish blonde, instantly nicknamed “Snow White.” 
      
The gangbanger neighborhood in which she was killed does not offer up easy answers. Hoods with nicknames like 2 Small and True Story are grilled at first, but the investigation goes nowhere. And then 20 years go by. 
      
The box of the title is supposed to contain whatever evidence exists in this very cold case. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/books/michael-connellys-harry-bosch-in-the-black-box.html?_r=1&

You can also read my interview with Michael Connelly via the below link:

http://pauldavisoncrime.blogspot.com/2010/04/killers-cops-and-crime-reporters-q-with.html
 

Thanksgiving With Abe: A Brief History of Thanksgiving


Historian Thomas Fleming's Channeling George Washington series for George Mason University's History News Network offers a history of Thanksgiving, and a note of thanks to President Abraham Lincoln.

You can read the piece via the below link:

http://www.hnn.us/articles/133847.html

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mob Talk: Merlino's Move To South Florida Is Rocking The Boat Among Local Wiseguys


Philadelphia's Fox 29 offers a video news report on South Philly organized crime figure Joey Merlino's move to South Florida after being released from federal prison.

Former Philadelphia mob boss Joey Merlino's move to South Florida has created some waves in organized crime circles just north of Miami, where he now lives.
 
In Monday night's Mob Talk, FOX 29's Dave Schratwieser gets the inside story from Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown on why Merlino's presence in the Sunshine State may be rocking the boat with local wise guys.
 
You can watch the news clip via the below link:
 

Winston Churchill: The Last Lion, Defender Of The Realm


Claude R. Marx offers a good review in the Washington Times of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender off the Realm. 

For nearly 24 years, history aficionados have been looking forward to the final volume of William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill. The wait was worth it.

Manchester's two previous volumes, “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932” and “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940,” were thorough, well-written and reasonably balanced. Happily, “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965” mostly follows that pattern.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/15/book-review-the-last-lion/

My Crime Beat Column: Cop Killer, A Look Back At The Abu Jamal Case

 
The FBI recently released its annual publication Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2001.

The report stated that 142 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty. The terrorist attacks of September 11th claimed the lives of 72 officers. The FBI reported that the attacks on the World Trade Center claimed 71 officers and a law enforcement officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also died on September 11th when the airplane in which he was traveling was hijacked as part of the terrorist attacks and crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

The officers killed in incidents unrelated to the September 11th attacks represented a 37.3 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers feloniously killed in 2000.

In my view, there is nothing more dangerous than a cop killer. The criminal who is willing to take on an armed police officer will not hesitate to kill anyone. A cop killer is a total outlaw.

As a writer I’ve spent a good amount of time with law enforcement officers. I’ve interviewed FBI, DEA and other agents from the alphabetized federal law enforcement community. I’ve spoken to military investigators, park rangers, sheriffs and cops from other cities, but I’ve probably spent the most time with Philly cops.

I’ve talked to them in the station houses, in patrol cars, on the street and in bars. I’ve listened to their concerns, prideful boasts and sorrowful confessions. I’ve accompanied Philly cops on patrol and witnessed them handle insane, intoxicated and violent people. I’ve observed how they consol crime victims and their families. I’ve seen how they cope with the aftermath of criminal violence and man’s inhumanity to man. And I’ve come to appreciate their black humor, which like military humor, is a necessary safety valve to get them through the day.

There is one cop killer in particular who rankles the rank and file of the Philadelphia police. In what can be called one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated criminal cases, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1982 for the shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Faulkner was only 25-years-old.

Last year Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was overturned by a federal judge in Philadelphia but denied him the right to a new trial. This decision made both sides of the issue unhappy.

The long, drawn out case of Abu-Jamal continues to this day. Abu-Jamal is the poster child of the death penalty opponents. A photo of Abu-Jamal, dressed in prison garb and sporting a beard and dreadlocks, adorns t-shirts and posters from Philadelphia to Paris. The anti-American international crowd, as well as celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Whoppi Goldberg, have called for a new trial.

Abu-Jamal supporters traveled to Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the sites of the 2000 political conventions to protest his death sentence. In Philadelphia there were also counter-demonstrations against Abu-Jamal. Faulkner’s widow, Maureen has campaigned steadily in an attempt to offset the publicity Abu-Jamal has garnered.

"If Abu-Jamal goes free, it will become open season on police officers," one angry cop told me during the Philadelphia convention. The cops are upset with the celebrity status and media attention bestowed on Abu-Jamal.

Popular among some Philadelphia police officers was a t-shirt made to counter the Abu-Jamal one. The off-duty cops’ t-shirt displays a photo of the slain officer and his badge on the front side and reads "In Memory of Daniel Faulkner." The backside of the t-shirt reads, "He killed Officer Faulkner. Let’s Kill Him Now."

The controversy rages on in the judicial system and on t-shirts.

Although some have made a racial issue out of the case (Abu-Jamal is black, and Faulkner was white), I don’t know of a single black police officer that favors Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal can be viewed however as a study in militant, radical race relations in Philadelphia. A former Black Panther and supporter of the militant back to nature group MOVE, his case is set against the backdrop of a history of contentious relations between the police and militants in the black communities of Philadelphia.

Abu-Jamal was a young Black Panther when the Philadelphia Police, under the command of Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo, raided the Black Panther headquarters. Rizzo, known as a "cop’s cop" who was called "The Cisco Kid" during his early career, would go on to become the city’s populist, law and order mayor.

A big, physically impressive man, Rizzo was equally loved and hated along racial and geographic lines in Philadelphia. In South Philly, where Rizzo was born and raised, he remains a revered figure years after his death.

In response to the shooting of two police officers in 1970, Rizzo ordered the Panther headquarters to be raided. After a brief gunfight, the Panthers were arrested and lined up against a wall. A UPI photographer captured the scene. The photo of the Panthers, nude, with their hands against the wall, was carried in newspapers across the country.

Abu-Jamal would go on to become a radio reporter but was later fired for his obsession with and open advocacy of the MOVE group. A handyman named Vincent Leapheart, who renamed himself John Africa, founded the group. All of his followers also took the name Africa to identify themselves as members of one "family."

Africa instructed his followers to lick their children clean rather than wash them the conventional way. The group had many other unusual practices as well. They settled into an armed, barricaded compound in a black middle class neighborhood called Powelltown. The neighbors complained about piled garbage, human and animal waste and rats. MOVE members would not allow city workers to enter the compound to inspect for health violations.

In 1978 the police raided the compound and police officer James Ramp was killed in the assault. Rizzo had bulldozers flatten the compound. Nine MOVE members were convicted of 3rd degree murder and other offenses.

John Africa, who was not at the compound during the time of the raid, moved his remaining members to another black middle class neighborhood in West Philadelphia. The neighbors there soon complained to the city about garbage, dogs, rats and the openly hostile MOVE members who brandished weapons and used loudspeakers to harass the neighbors.

Three years later, after Abu-Jamal was convicted and imprisoned, the MOVE house would make headlines around the world when the Philadelphia police ended an armed standoff by dropping an explosive device on the rooftop bunker. The bunker housed MOVE riflemen who were firing on the police.

The fire than ensued was allowed to burn out of control and destroyed the MOVE house and 60 others in the neighborhood. John Africa and five other MOVE members were killed in the blaze. Tragically, five children were also killed in the fire.

Several police officers and former military men have told me that the dropping of the C-4 explosive on the rooftop bunker was a tactically sound decision – MOVE had the high ground in the urban battlefield – but the decision to allow the fire to burn on was a bad one.

The police officials under the city’s first black mayor, Wilson Goode, who succeeded Rizzo as mayor, made that call.

In the midst of the long-running MOVE controversy, Abu-Jamal, fired by WUHY Radio for his lack of objectivity and his intimate involvement with MOVE, began to drive a cab.

According to the testimony that convicted Abu-Jamal, Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed on December 9, 1981 at 4AM on 13th and Locust Streets in Center City Philadelphia.

Faulkner had stopped William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother, for driving the wrong way on 13th Street. Cook and Faulkner were wrestling when Abu-Jamal drove up in his cab. According to three witnesses, a man in dreadlocks ran through the parking lot and shot Faulkner. Two of the three witnesses positively identified Abu-Jamal as the murderer.

Abu-Jamal came up behind Faulkner and shot him in the back. Faulkner returned fire as he fell to the street and was able to place a round in Abu-Jamal’s chest.

Although wounded, Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner again, but this time it was point-blank between Faulkner’s eyes. Abu-Jamal then collapsed in the street alongside Faulkner.

Police responding to the scene found Abu-Jamal sitting in the street and suffering from a gunshot wound from Faulkner’s gun. Abu-Jamal’s legally registered .38 caliber revolver was discovered at the scene, along with five spent shell casing.

Abu-Jamal was taken to the hospital by the police and was overheard by a police officer and a security guard as saying, "I shot the mother...and I hope he dies."

A ballistics expert testified that the bullet that killed Faulkner was too damaged to be identified as being from Abu-Jamal’s gun, but it bore tracings consistent with the type of gun he owned.

Both Abu-Jamal and his brother have steadfastly refused to testify or publicly give their side of the night’s events.

The lawyer who originally defended Abu-Jamal admits to making crucial mistakes. He says he failed to offer character witnesses and interviewed key witnesses only on the day of their testimony. Abu-Jamal’s later defense team also contends that Abu-Jamal had the right to select his own counsel. He wanted to be defended by MOVE founder John Africa. He cursed the judge and the jury and had to be restrained and once was removed from the courtroom.

"Abu-Jamal was represented by a an experienced former prosecutor who was not foisted on him, but took the case at the request of one of Abu-Jamal’s friends," wrote Philadelphia District Attorney, Lyn Abraham in a New York Times op-ed, which was later carried in the Philadelphia Daily News..

Abraham, who was once called "one tough cookie" by Frank Rizzo, went on to say that the jury was composed of blacks and whites chosen with Abu-Jamal’s personal participation. They voted unanimously to convict him of first-degree murder for executing a police officer in cold blood.

Abraham went on to state that the crime was committed at a well-lighted intersection in full view of numerous people.

"When the police happened on the scene, almost immediately after it occurred, the evidence of guilt, both eyewitness and physical, was at the scene along with the perpetrator. There was no reason or opportunity to fabricate the evidence, all of which corroborated each other. There is no question of guilt," Abraham wrote.

Even though Abu-Jamal’s supporters were successful in having the death penalty dropped; they are still appealing for a new trial. Lyn Abraham’s office is also appealing. Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence at Graterford Prison in Philadelphia

Cop killers were glorified in a "gangsta" rap song by Ice-T some time ago. Today, ironically, Ice-T is portraying a police officer on the TV program Law & Order: Special Victims. He is somewhat convincing as a streetwise former narc.

If Hollywood ever makes a film or TV movie about the Abu-Jamal case, I would cast Ice-T as Abu-Jamal.

I’m not sure who I would cast as Danny Faulkner. But with so many of the Hollywood types supporting Abu-Jamal, I don’t suppose it would a fair or balanced film.

Perhaps Abu-Jamal’s celebrity supporters, like Ed Asner and Mike Farrell, should take leave of their TV-sound stages and try patrolling the mean streets of Philadelphia one weekend.

Let them try living and working with the knowledge that they may be targeted at any time by any criminal, radical or nut who fancies himself a public enemy.

Police officers, who make a lot less than TV actors, do this every day.

Note: The column originally appeared in the Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2003.

The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy And America's Entry Into World War I


Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of an interesting book by Thomas Boghardt called The Zimmermann Telegram.

On the morning of March 1, 1917, virtually every American newspaper published a bombshell story: a report on a telegram from the German foreign secretary,Arthur Zimmermann, proposing an alliance with Mexico. He offered his country’s support to Mexico for reconquering “the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona” in exchange for a Mexican attack on the United States should the Americans enter the war on the side of the Allies.

World War I had entered a crucial state in the winter of 1916-17, with neither the Allies nor the Central Powers having the resources to push through to victory. To be sure, the Allies had more soldiers on the battlefield. Nonetheless, the German army remained deep in French and Russian territory, and deadly submarine warfare deprived millions of people of the substances of life. War-weary populaces on both sides yearned for an end of watching their youth fed through bloody meat grinders.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/20/book-review-the-zimmermann-telegram/


I interviewed author and historian Thomas Boghardt (seen in the above photo) about the history of cyber warfare a while back for Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the interview via the below links:

http://home.comcast.net/~pauldavisoncrime/pwpimages/QAThomasBoghardt1.jpg

http://home.comcast.net/~pauldavisoncrime/pwpimages/QAThomasBoghardt2.jpg

http://home.comcast.net/~pauldavisoncrime/pwpimages/QAThomasBoghardt3.jpg

To Serve Women: Prosecutor Says 'Cannibal Cop' Planned To Kidnap, Eat Woman For Thanksgiving


Bruce Golding at the New York Post reports on the strange case of the NYPD officer who had odd plans for the holiday tomorrow.

Forget white meat or dark meat — he wanted “girl meat” for Thanksgiving.

Gilberto Valle, the NYPD officer busted by the feds as an alleged cannibal wannabe, saw his alleged holiday hopes dashed yesterday when prosecutors said he’d planned to dine on human flesh tomorrow.

Manhattan federal prosecutor Hadassa Waxman read aloud in court a transcript from a Feb. 9 Internet chat in which she said Valle, 28, told an unidentified man that turkey alone wouldn’t satisfy his hunger.

Waxman said the discussion went like this:

Valle: “I’m planning on getting some girl meat.”

You can read the rest of the story via the below link:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/beauty_is_the_feast_D9Hs1MrolUheml9L6tUVOL

Note: New question to place on NYPD application - are you now or have you ever been, or desire to be, a cannibal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Crime Beat Column: Inspiring Bond


A good number of distinguished people died in 2003. Foremost among them, I believe, was Bob Hope, a comedic giant that I truly loved.

Another man who died in 2003 was distinguished due to his incredible military exploits in World War II. According to his obituaries, he may have also inspired Ian Fleming to go on and create one of the most popular and enduring fictional characters in the world. I’m referring, of course, to Bond, James Bond.

Retired Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Patrick Dalzel-Job, who died at the age of 90 last October in Plockton, Scotland, was a genuine hero during World War II. He commanded one of the intelligence-assault teams devised by Ian Fleming, then a Royal Navy Commander and personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey.

Fleming organized and led a naval commando group called the 30 Assault Unit. The commandos went ashore on raids with orders to seize Nazi documents, equipment and other vital military intelligence. Fleming called the intelligence-gathering group his "Red Indians."

According to Dalzel-Job’s obit in the British newspaper The Guardian, "He could ski backwards, navigate a midget submarine, and undertake the riskiest parachute jumps. His Second World War exploits are the epitome of derring-do behind enemy lines."

"And like Bond," The Guardian added, "he sometimes defied authority,"

The Guardian told the story of how Dalzel-Job was sent to Norway. Ordered not to mix with civilians, he went on to save an entire town from a Nazi reprisal-bombing raid by evacuating them in fishing boats. He would have been court-marshaled had it not been for the King of Norway awarding him a Knights Cross of St Olaf First Class for his actions.

Dalzel-Job once said in an interview that Fleming told him he was a role model for Bond, but as another member of Fleming’s unit noted, Dalzel-Job didn’t make a fuss about it.

Dalzel-Job never read the novels or saw any of the films and he also claimed that unlike the womanizing Bond, he loved only one woman in his life.

Dalzel-Job published a memoir in 1991 called From Artic Snow To Dust of Normandy. I’ve not yet read it, but it’s on a list of desired books that I’ve given to Tom Jakubowski, a lieutenant colonel in army intelligence and a history buff. His hobby - his quest - is to hunt down old, arcane and out-of-print books for a small number of friends and coworkers. He goes after hard to find books with the same determination and intensity that Delta commandos employ in their hunt for bin Laden. I hope to soon have Dalzel-Job’s book in my hands (as I hope that Delta will soon have bin Laden.)

I won’t defend the comic book character that James Bond has become in the film series, but the more realistic Bond character in the novels was based on the many commandos Fleming met in WWII.

Dalzel-Job was the type of man Fleming admired, but in my view, he was not the sole influence.

Fleming also based his character on people like Sidney Reilly and Richard Sorge; two suave, womanizing and tough secret agents in espionage history.

As Fleming said in an interview before his death in 1964, Bond was a man of action, a cipher, and simply a blunt instrument in the hands of the government. But Fleming said he also infused Bond with his own "quirks and characteristics."

Dalzel-Job and men like him inspired Fleming to create a character that went on to inspire millions upon millions of readers and film goers. As readers of this column know, I was one of them.

I saw the movies and read the books as a teenager in the 1960s and they sparked my life-long interest in crime, espionage and terrorism.

The novels and movies also sparked my interest in travel. With a burning desire to see the world, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy when I was 17 years old. Over the years, I’ve met many others who have been similarly influenced by Fleming. 

More than 50 years ago Ian Fleming went to war and came across some extraordinary men, one of whom was Patrick Dalzel-Job. Fleming, having spent six years in naval intelligence during WWII, claimed that he would one day write the "spy story to end all spy stories."

Fleming's fictional character was an extraordinary man. According to Bond's SMERSH file in Fleming's novel From Russia With Love, Bond was an all-round athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer and knife-thrower.

To the Soviet general looking at his photographs, Bond appeared to be a handsome, dangerous-looking man who possessed the qualities of decision, authority and ruthlessness.

"He looks a nasty customer," General Grubozaboyschikov, the head of SMERSH, said before issuing Bond's death warrant.

In the novels Bond fought the good fight against Nazis, the Soviet Union's "Evil Empire," international criminal organizations and terrorists. He was a ruthless killer, but he killed not for greed, revenge or to satisfy a sickness. Agent 007 with the license to kill killed the enemies of the free world under specific orders from the British government.

As George Orwell reportedly said, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Bond, like the WWII commandos Fleming knew, was a rough man. 

Today, rough men (and some women) are operating in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They are policing the mean streets and they are patrolling the skies, the oceans and the waterways of the world.

Ian Fleming's novels and the films they spawned have thrilled and inspired generation after generation of readers and film goers around the world. Fleming wrote unabashedly to entertain, but his novels were powerful and they formed a very strong bond with his readers.

You can learn more about Ian Fleming by reading The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson and Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond by Andrew Lycett.

If you have not read the Ian Fleming thrillers, I heartily recommend them. They are much better than the films. And if have not reread the novels in some years, I recommend you revisit the spy stories to end all spy stories.

Note: The above column originally appeared in the Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2004.

The Art Of Intelligence: Lessons From A Life In The CIA's Clandestine Service, My Q & A With Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton

  
Counterterrorism magazine published my interview with Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton.

Ambassador Crumpton is the author of The Art of  Intelligence: Lessons From a Life In the CIA's Clandestine Service.

The book recounts his 24-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency, including his efforts at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and his spearheading of the CIA's paramilitary campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11.


You can read the interview below:





My Review Of Ben Macintyre's Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies


Counterterrorism magazine published my review of Ben Macintyre's Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies.

You can read my piece below:



Monday, November 19, 2012

Philadelphia Mob History Lesson: Former Hit Man Peter "Pete the Crumb' Caprio Testifies At Philly Organized Crime Trial


John P. Martin at the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the Philadelphia organized crime trial.

A rear courtroom door opened and a slight man shuffled to the witness stand, clad in a black V-neck sweater over a white collared shirt and patterned tie.
 
Now 83, he looked too frail to lift a baseball bat, much less crush it against another man's skull, as he said he once would.

"Wow," a defense lawyer blurted out. "He got old," someone else whispered. A dozen years have passed since Pete "The Crumb" Caprio became a turncoat against his associates in the Philadelphia mob. At least three times since, federal prosecutors have trotted out Caprio, a once-feared captain, to tell juries about his life, exploits, crimes, and similar details about others.  The Crumb was back again Monday, called to deliver a history lesson for jurors at the racketeering trial of reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six underlings.

You can read the rest of the story vai the below link:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20121119_Now_83__former_hitman_testifies_at_Philly_mob_trial.html

Mafia Prince: Inside America's Most Violent Mafia Family And The Bloody Fall Of La Cosa Nostra


The New York Daily News offers an excerpt from a new book by Philip Leonetti, the former underboss of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra organized crime family.

Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Mafia Family and the Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra,” is the book that came together after gangster and stone cold killer Philip Leonetti emerged from hiding to tell his story to Scott Burnstein and Christopher Graziano. Once the underboss to and the nephew of possibly the most vicious psychopath the mob has ever produced, the Philadelphia boss Nicky (Little Nicky) Scarfo, “Crazy Phil” turned and testified, sending dozens of mobsters to jail.

Now, years after leaving the federal witness protection program with a $500,000 bounty still on his head, he recalls a critical killing in 1978 from their salad days in Atlantic City, when the two murdered a mob associate that had offended Scarfo.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/book-excerpt-mafia-prince-america-violent-mafia-family-bloody-fall-la-cosa-nostra-article-1.1203881

You can also read a piece on Philip Leonetti by George Anastasia, the author of Blood and Honor and The Last Gangster, via the below link:

http://www.jerseymanmagazine.com/mobscene-leonetti.php

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Philadelphia Inquirer Review Of Dennis Lehane's 'Live By Night'


The Philadelphia Inquirer published my review of Dennis Lehane's new crime thriller Live By Night today.

Dennis Lehane's new crime thriller opens with a gripping scene.

"Some years later, on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin's feet were placed in a tub of cement," Lehane writes. "Twelve gunmen stood waiting until they got far enough out to sea to throw him overboard, while Joe listened to the engine chug and watched the water churn white at the stern. And it occurred to him that almost everything of note that had happened in his life - good and bad - had been set in motion that morning he first crossed paths with Emma Gould."

Hard to top that for getting your attention.

You can read the rest of the review below:


Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.